Tonight, I’m going to hear selections from Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” performed by the city philharmonic orchestra. The opera itself is devastating, inspired by the interrupted love affair between Wagner and Mathilde Wesendonck. Such drama needs an equally dramatic and everlasting scent, and Shalimar is the only one that straddles the two competing sentiments.
Shalimar smells like what Baudelaire’s Fanfarlo would wear: it’s sexy and rich without being the least bit sweet. It possesses low sillage, so only those closest catch the waft from your skin and hair. Spicy and mysterious, musky incense lilts throughout like sweet cedar burning. Vetiver, jasmine, patchouli, and resin are interwoven, completely complimenting one another. I imagine Baudelaire catching Shalimar on his clothes, damning La Fanfarlo for the constant reminder. It’s quite fitting that Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir were built by Emperor Jahangir for his queen, an extravagant gesture of eternal love, and it’s this sumptuous expression that Guerlain sought to capture in a bottle.
The perfect dress would not be too showy, but rather draw one in much like the fragrance. I’ve chosen a vintage dusky slate-blue midi dress that shows just enough decolletage and a beautiful upcycled diamond brooch-necklace that, combined, are eerily similar to the bottle itself: vintage elegance without being outdated and worn.